Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Paradoxical Wonder

We live our lives in a shell that has been described in a multitude of ways. The human body is a wonder that defies imagination and tests the ability of one to properly put into words how intricate and delicate yet durable it is. We see examples of these extremes every day. A freak accident takes someone's life and we are left shaking our heads at the senseless nature of it. A simple slip in the shower or misguided step in traffic and we experience an event that has catastrophic results. On the other had, a twisting fall from 10,000 feet that leaves one broken yet still alive and the question arises as to how one could survive. The paradox of the human body never ceases to amaze.

The deep and unanswerable were brought to the forefront of this writer's mind last week when the observation was made by my son of the indomitable nature of the human heart. From the time one is born until they die, the heart never skips a beat. In a variety of situations and under conditions that are often far from ideal, the beat goes on. As the hardy, highly developed, muscle responds to electrical impulses from the brain, its pulsing forces life-giving oxygenated blood throughout the body.

After only a few weeks of development, a fetal heart, though just a simple tube, occupies a large portion of the fetal body. Despite its simplicity, its beating serves a vital purpose in the development of the new life. As active growth takes place in the womb, the heart supplies much-needed nutrients to the still small, yet amazingly complex human life. From its earliest inception a human heart begins its relentless life of beating in a myriad of situations. It is amazing to think that such a delicate mass of muscle could be so capable of surviving so many adverse situations.

The tireless, sojourning heart insures our tired and worn bodies are supplied with the life-giving blood we need. But what about the opposite end of the paradoxical scale? If the heart is such a tough survivor, why does it also seem so delicate and vulnerable? In our society today a sea of maladies lap at the shores of good human health. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in this country. Such a durable organ can be taken down in a relatively short period of time by the unfortunate consequences of life choices; high stress, poor diet, lack of exercise. All of these poor habits play a part in the onslaught the human heart has to withstand. Yes, it is a tough organ, but it can be delicate as well.

Regimented aerobic exercise taxes the cardiovascular system. But in the life of a healthy heart this taxation only makes it stronger. The heart pumps a volume of blood each day that staggers the mind. An average heart can pump somewhere around 2000 gallons per day, while it has been shown that the heart of a world class runner can pump five times that amount. A good workout of hard running or swimming can work the heart like no other exercise. The heart is a wonder. Let's make sure it is healthy and able to do its job. In most lives, if proper care is given it, the heart will pump continuously for 80 or more years. So tough and yet so fragile. The heart amazes. The heart is unwavering. Let's make sure it can do its job. Let's keep it healthy. It is a paradoxical wonder so let's make sure we give it the best chance at working nonstop for the rest of our lives.

1 comment:

Drew said...

Such a great post, Andy. It really made me stop for a moment and think about everything you said.